Wednesday, April 30, 2014

His and Her Zodiac Vacations

I love reading quick and fun articles on BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post. Because I follow both on Facebook, fun and interesting articles pop up on my NewsFeed each day. That's how I found this article...
 Click the photo to go to the article on The Huffington Post website.

We are huge travelers. We love to travel, we love to plan vacations, and we love to talk about travel plans. We just love to travel! We were intrigued by the idea that our vacation plans might have some connection with our zodiac signs. 

Sean is an Aquarius. Here is what The Huffington Post suggested for him.
This analysis seems to be pretty accurate. I tend to be someone that either is hot or cold when it comes to travel destinations. If its somewhere I am interested I can't wait to visit, but if it isn't I won't go unless its somewhere Amanda really wants to go. Iceland looks amazing from what I have seen on TV and I would love to visit some day. The northern lights are something I would love to experience in person. I could see myself filling my memory cards and hard drive with all of the photos I would take if I ever went. I have thought about visiting Iceland a couple of times so maybe I just need to plan to go some day!

Amanda is a Leo. Here is what The Huffington Post suggested for her.
I love the idea of taking a vacation to an amusement park, but I have no interest in visiting Disney World. I know -- I know -- That makes me weird. I would love to visit Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios in Orlando again. I would love, love, love to go back to Dreamworld in Australia. Visiting Knotts Berry Farm in California or Coney Island in New York would be great. Disney World seems nice, but it's not for me. Another amusement park though -- I would book a trip tomorrow!

It was fun to read through what they suggested as vacation spots and compare that with our own thoughts. If you like to travel, head over to the article (the link is here) and see where they suggest you should go. Then you can come back here and let us know if you agree/disagree with their suggestions.

Happy Traveling,

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

His: Y is for Yardage

I can't believe April is almost over and that we only have 2 letters to go for the A-Z Challenge.
Y is for Yardage!
    As some of you know, I started sewing about 4 months ago, and like many other crafters, I am starting to accumulate a small stash of fabric. Its mostly leftover scraps from projects that I have completed, but there is quite a few yards of material in my fabric bucket for projects that I have not started yet. In today's post I wanted to share some of my favourite fabrics that I bought for projects that I have completed. 

 This is the first fabric that I bought right after I got my sewing machine. I am using it for a quilt for my niece that is still a work in progress (I blogged about it earlier in the month, click here to read that post)

Sometimes you can find some really fun patterns in the fabric store. I sewed a surgical scrub hat for my sister (She is a O.R nurse) with the dog fabric, and a knitting project bag for one of Amanda's friends with the cats and the fish tank fabric.

These two are pretty loud, and once I saw them I had projects already in mind for them. The one on the left is on the back of the monkey quilt and a knitting project bag, and the one on the right was used for a knitting project bag that is currently for sale in my Etsy store.

The fabric on the left was made into a knitting project bag (yes I have made a lot of those), and the whales on the right was a fabric my sister-in-law selected for a high chair spill mat.

The brown and blue fabric is for a tote bag that I am making for Amanda, which I hope to finish either today or tomorrow. I made a knitting project bag with the green Hello Kitty Fabric. I also made a pacifier clip out of this fabric and it is for sale at my Etsy Store.

Amanda picked out the fabric on the left and in the center for her two knitting project bags. The chevron pattern on the right was made into a pillowcase dress for my niece.

I have some pictures of the finished projects using some of these fabrics in my "Sewing up a Storm" post. Once I get some of my unfinished projects done I hope to make some more items for my Etsy store so I can use up some of this wonderful fabric. I have so many favourite fabrics it is hard to choose which one is my favourite. Which one do you like best?

Monday, April 28, 2014

His and Her Travel Review: X is for Railroad

Just 3 letters to go in the A-Z Challenge. The letter X was a difficult one, but we decided that the letter X looks just like the railway crossing sign so that will be the subject of today's post.

Today's travel review is the Zig Zag Railway that is located about 2 hours west of Sydney, near the city of Lithgow, NSW Australia. The railway takes passengers from the top of the Blue Mountains down to the bottom of the mountain range, using a series of switchbacks as it was impractical to get down the mountain any other way. When the line was built in 1860 it was the mainline from Sydney to the cities west of the mountain range; it was replaced by a new line that used a series of tunnels in 1910, eliminating the need for the switchbacks. The land sat dormant for over 60 years, but was turned into a tourist railway in 1972.

The train is pulled by a classic steam engine.
      I had been on the trip many times as a kid, since my dad is a train enthusiast and we usually rode on the train whenever we visited family in the nearby city of Lithgow. When I brought Amanda to Australia for the first time in 2006, we thought it might be good for her to experience the train trip for herself as she had heard a lot about it over the years. It would also be a good way for her to see the countryside at a slightly slower pace as well.

After purchasing our tickets we entered one of a line of carriages that was behind a steam engine. It reminded me of the Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter movies, but I was pretty certain that we would not end up in Hogsmeade or come across any Dementors or anyone from Hogwarts on this journey. After the whistle blew, the train headed off down the mountain, through a short tunnel and towards the first switchback. At the Switchback the train came to a stop as the engine needed to move to the other end of the train for the second part of the journey down the mountain. The train started moving again and continued down the mountain. Once at the bottom of the mountain the train stopped so we could hop out and buy a snack at the little railway station and give the steam engine time to switch ends again. After about 15 minutes we all piled on board and headed up the mountain. The whole trip took around 2 hours so it's pretty easy to fit into your schedule. The trip has some excellent views of the Blue mountains and of the Australian countryside and is well worth visiting if you enjoy trips on tourist railways. Sadly it is not currently open as much of the equipment was damaged in a bad bushfire (wildfire) but is scheduled to re open at some point later in the year.

I remember quite a bit about this particular journey. The strongest memory is of the scenery. I loved the train, and got the same Harry Potter feel as Sean, but the scenery was incredible. The Blue Mountains are incredibly beautiful. The pictures do not do them justice.

The old line, which is now the Zig Zag tourist railway, is the series of switchback going down the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain you can see the double line that is used by passenger and freight trains going to and from Sydney.

These are the carriages you ride in. Harry Potter is making sense now huh?

It's amazing that they were able to carve a route down the mountain and build the big Viaduct bridge back in the 1850's.

The engine was moved at each switchback. It was a great time for photos.

Are you as big a fan of railways as we are? Which one is your favorite?

Happy Traveling,

Saturday, April 26, 2014

His: Wallabies and Wombats and Wallaroos! O My!

Our A-Z Blogging Challenge is almost done. Just 4 letters to go! Today's post is brought to you by the letter "W"

Today we are linking up with Melinda at West Metro Mommy for Super Saturday Snapshots.

Australia has a wild variety of animals that are found no where else on earth (unless you count zoos). Since a few of them start with the letter W we thought it would make for a great post for the A-Z Challenge and for the Saturday Snapshots as well. Below are some of the photos that we have taken of Australian Fauna that started with the letter W.

This is a Rock Wallaby that I found along a bushwalking/hiking trail in Central Australia in 1994. Its not common to see them in the wild but he didn't seem too worried about my presence.

This is a wombat which is a vegetarian marsupial that lives in burrows. It would be somewhat similar to much bigger version of a groundhog. They are mostly nocturnal so you usually only see them in zoos or wildlife parks.

Here is a group of wallabies and wallaroos.I have trouble telling them apart but I believe there are some of each in the photo.

These guys are posing for the camera.

This one is a little shy.

"I'm trying to blend in. Can you see me huh?

We had a lot of fun visiting all of the Australian wildlife during our visits to Australia as you don't normally get to see anything beside emus and kangaroos in most zoos in America. It was nice being able to get some good photos on the last trip so we could share with you. Which one is your favourite?

Friday, April 25, 2014

His and Her Vineyard 5K

"V" is a tricky letter in the A-Z Challenge. Thankfully, we didn't have to rack our brains too hard before discovering the perfect topic.

There are three of us blogging today so here is the color recap to help:
Purple is Amanda
Red is Sean
Green is Shellie, Sean's sister

Shellie and Tim, Sean's sister and our now brother-in-law, got married last year. We were over-the-moon excited that we were able to travel to Australia for the wedding and stay for a month to visit with everyone and tour the country. (I blogged about the wedding here.)

We decided, before arriving in the country, that we wanted to all do a 5K together. Shellie and Tim had begun a training regimen a few months before the wedding to lose some weight. They both did a great job and they looked (and still look) amazing! In all the talk about their training, Sean mentioned that he thought it would be fun for all of us to do a race together. The idea stuck! 

Since it was winter in Australia, our choices of 5Ks were very limited. In fact, we could only really find one that was a viable option - on the day after their wedding, an hour away from their home, at 11:00 in the morning. Crazy right? We certainly didn't sign up for that craziness...or did we?

Of course we did! Even Shellie's trainer thought we were all crazy. We arrived one minute before the race started, but we were there when the race gun went off. The course was hillier - MUCH hillier - than Sean had promised me, but I trudged along. The scenery was beautiful and it was a great experience for all of us to share. The coolest part? I have a 5K shirt from Australia to wear when I head to the gym or walk around the neighborhood. So cool! 

Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt (and the finisher's medal)
I had considered running in the half marathon or 10k and then walking the 5K with the rest of the group, but after seeing how far from Shellie's house it was and how tired I would be and possibly also dealing with jet lag, I decided to scrap the longer race idea and just walk the 5K with the group. I looked at the course and the topography and thought it looked pretty flat. My mistake was that I was used to looking at maps of races in our area where they make a small bridge look like Mt Everest since it is so flat in our part of Virginia. It ended up being pretty hilly for most of the race but it was a very scenic course and we all had a great time laughing and enjoying each other's company. The gardens by the vineyards were just stunning and even the the grapevines looked nice, though it was winter and there were no leaves. The course was well marked and the organizers did a great job on putting on a well run and fun event. I would love to participate in this event again on our next trip and maybe run in a longer event as well.

 The gardens were very scenic.

 How could you not enjoy a 5K when it is this pretty?

Everyone is enjoying the walk even though there are lots of hills.

It was weird to be in a race with KM markers rather than Mile markers.

This would be even more stunning when the grapes and leaves are out.

I remember signing up for the Winery Running Festival last May when Sean asked me if I was interested in participating. It was right in the middle of wedding planning and I remember thinking it was a crazy idea!! I had listened to Sean talk about his many running events and jumped at the chance to do one with him while he was in Australia. The craziest part was that the event was the day AFTER our wedding!!! We met up with Sean, and Amanda that morning, and made the trek out to Hunter Valley Gardens to begin our 5.2km walk/walk (honestly... it was a walk, we were so tired post wedding ) It was beautiful to walk through parts of the Hunter Valley Gardens, and point out our favourite ( in Australia we have a u in that word :D) parts of the gardens to Amanda and Sean, since we had been here a few times before. My favourite part was spending time with my husband, and chatting with Sean and Amanda. I would recommend the event to anyone in the Hunter Valley, as it has a great variety of course lengths and beautiful views on the course. We even got a shirt and medal for participating. It is nice having a little token to remember my first 5k event with my brother :) After the event they have lots of yummy food choices from many food stalls or close by cafes and restaurants.

Amanda, Shellie and Tim crossing the finish line.

We know this is a long one, but all three of us writing was fun. What is your favorite race/5K that you have done? 

Happy Running/Walking,
                               and Shellie

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Her: "U" Should (Not) Read These

We are close to the end of the April A-Z Challenge. I am cheating a little bit today, but here is my "U" post.

Another month has ended, which means it is time to recap what I read this month. Again, I am behind on my reading goal, five books behind as of right now. Sean and I have been doing our Devotional reading before bed and then discussing what we read. I love, love, love that we have begun doing this and am not really minding that it is eating into my own personal reading time. It'll be OK! :)

Here's what I read this month:

Divergent by Veronica Roth
 Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Goodreads says:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

I say:
It is a little bit of a cheat to say that I read this book this month. It would be more truthful to say that I abandoned this book this month. I got about half-way and did not like the book. I liked the author's style of writing and I liked the main character, but I did not like the plot lines. I am willing to try again this summer, but I am done for now.
Goodreads Rating (with 778,706 ratings): 4.36 stars
My Rating: 2 stars 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
 The Outsiders

Goodreads says:
According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

I say:
I reread this book each year with my 8th graders. This year we went through it as a read-aloud. I loved experiencing this book all over again with them. It's the first year I have read the book aloud, but I think I have started a new tradition. The characters are incredible and so well-written. The plot line has some major twists and turns, some you see coming and some you don't. The book makes you reexamine yourself, your friends/family, and the way you treat people in society. It is truly amazing! The fact that the author was 16 and a high school student when she wrote it, just makes me love it more. 

Goodreads Rating (with 391,537 ratings): 3.99 stars (What?!?!?! This is crazy low!!)
My Rating: 5 stars

Yours and Mine by Debbie Macomber
 Yours and Mine

Goodreads says:
A New York Times Bestselling Author, Joanna Parsons is a single mother who insists that marriage is an experience she doesn't plan to repeat. But her eleven-year-old daughter, Kristen, has a different scenario in mind - and it involves Tanner Lund, her best friend's dad.

I say:
I saw where this book was going from page 1, but it didn't bother me. Debbie Macomber has such a way with characters and plot lines. I really enjoy her writing style and this book did not disappoint. I checked it out from the library and would not buy it, but I would consider a reread later.

Goodreads Rating (with 101 ratings): 3.90 stars
My Rating: 4 stars

I have two other books that I am currently reading, but I will save those for a month's recap when they are actually finished.

Have you read any of these books? Can you suggest some more for me? I feel like I am in a reading rut and I need some help breaking out!

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Her Time

This one was hard for me to decide what I would write about. I started and erased this four times before deciding on this one.

T is for Time. There never seems to be enough of it in my world. I am constantly saying that I need more of it. When I write my "Currently" posts at the beginning of the month, I almost always say I need more time to get things done.


A perfect day for me would include time to:
  • work (because I have to and it pays the bills) 
  • get everything checked off my to-do list for that day at work 
  • hang out with Sean 
  • clean/straighten something in my house 
  • check Facebook and Instagram 
  • read blogs and have time to respond to at least a few 
  • knit 
  • watch a TV show or two 
  • play/cuddle with Alex 
  • do my Devotional reading and spend time in prayer 
  • go to sleep at a time that would mean I am rested for the next day

**I'm not asking for much in 24 hours am I?**

What gets in my way? Well, a myriad of things.
  • At work I tend to be too social. I have the gift of gab as my grandmother would say. I come by it honestly (seriously, just ask both my parents!) but it does get in the way of me focusing on the task at hand. But let's be honest, who wants to sit at a desk working every minute of every day when you could be chatting and having a little fun?
  • I am also a horrible procrastinator. My to-do list helps, but I am a procrastinator.
  • At home I am so tired and worn out from work that I struggle to find energy to do anything.
  • Also, at home, I struggle to find the motivation to get up off the couch to do anything. 
  • After a long and stressful day, hiding from the work in my tote bag is a defense mechanism. It keeps me sane and puts me behind for the next day - which is an ever-turning and vicious cycle.

So how do I break free and harness the hours of the day that I have so I can be more productive and, let's be honest, happier? *sigh* I honestly don't know. I know this has to feel a little bit like a let-down. I have not figured this one out yet. 
  • I tell myself to be less chatty and more focused at work, but I genuinely like the people I work with so chatting with them is fun for me. 
  • I don't know how to give less than 100% at work so that I have something left when I get home. 
  • The procrastinating thing is something I am working on, but it is a slow process. I want to change that about myself - a lot!

Here's what I am hoping. I am hoping that someone out there has a solution or an answer to my dilemma. How do you manage your hours? How do you make everything fit? 

Happy Hump Day - and Thank You, in advance, for all the advice and help! I really value all of your opinions and thoughts. I come to you for help because I know it will be good! Thank you!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...